Collective efforts needed to solve housing affordability issue

LBS continues to support Government’s affordable housing agenda. (Second from left) LBS Bina Group Berhad Group Managing Director, Tan Sri Lim Hock San, receiving a token of appreciation from (Centre) Deputy Minister of Housing and Local Government Malaysia, YBM Senator Dato’ Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Ibni Raja Ahmad Baharuddin Shah, at the National Housing and Property Focus Summit. With them are (from left) Kingsley Strategic Institute President, Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Michael Yeoh; Country Heights Group, Founder and Chairman, Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew, and; Kingsley Strategic Institute, Chairman, Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Barry Goh Ming Choon.

3 May, SERDANG – The Malaysian housing market is in need of a transformation towards achieving a conducive housing market that will safeguard the interest of homebuyers. The key areas that need to be addressed include provision of adequate affordable housing, inflated house prices, mismatch of supply and demand as well as difficulty in securing home loans. This call was made by panellists at a CEO roundtable discussing the pressing challenges brought about by the changing property market landscape.

Panel guest speaker, Tan Sri Lim Hock San, LBS Bina Group Berhad Group Managing Director, called on all stakeholders, including government, developers, banks as well as homebuyers to collaborate and address the persistent housing affordability issue, “Collective effort is needed to solve housing affordability issue,” he said. Themed, “Coping with the New Property Landscape – Overcoming Challenges”, the National Housing and Property Focus Summit 2019 provided an engaging platform for property industry players to discuss and exchange ideas on measures to overcome the volatile property market. It was officiated by the Deputy Minister of Housing and Local Government, YBM Senator Dato’ Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Ibni Raja Ahmad Baharuddin Shah. Recent data from Bank Negara revealed that properties in Malaysia are labelled as ‘unaffordable’ by international affordability metrics, with some 74% of the 171,000 unsold residential units priced beyond the affordability of ordinary Malaysians.

Tan Sri Lim lamented that ‘housing affordability’ remains a major concern for the majority of Malaysian homebuyers, and in many cases, it is a financial burden, especially for first-time and millennial homebuyers.

To bring down the price of properties, Tan Sri Lim suggested that more government land be set aside for affordable housing. “Shortage of land within the Klang Valley is one of the factors contributing to increasingly inflated prices. At present, we know only a small portion of affordable housing projects are built on government or state-owned land. If more land can be allocated for affordable housing developments, this would increase the supply of affordable homes.” In realising the national housing agenda, it is important that more collective measures be taken including:

• Providing further incentives to widen the adoption of IBS amongst developers and builders, which in turn, will speed up delivery of quality homes and bring down house prices;
• Accelerate the setting up of a proposed special task unit to expedite the approval process of affordable housing projects;
• Fast-track the establishment of a central database and single entity to enable effective management of property supply and demand. In this way, property developers can build the right type of properties that meet the actual requirements of homebuyers. More importantly, the database must be made accessible to all stakeholders;
• Raising household income level which in turn will strengthen homebuyers’ position to secure better financing; and
• Strengthen the collaboration between the federal and state governments to facilitate smooth planning and implementation of affordable housing projects. A single entity to be set up to lead, oversee and coordinate affordable housing initiatives for the nation.

As for property developers, Tan Sri opined that, in this day and age, building affordable homes has gone beyond developing a house with a roof. Property developers must study the actual needs of homebuyers in order to create homes that help improve the well-being of homebuyers and their families.

“The housing issues at hand are complex, and there are no easy solutions. We need to work together and to think out-of-the box. Developers need to realise that ‘affordable housing’ is not about building cheaper houses. It is about building stronger and better communities that allow people to thrive in an active and safe environment. Personally, I believe if we all work together, we can shape a better future for the industry and the nation,” Tan Sri Lim concluded.

Back for the second year, this year’s conference attracted over 150 participants including policy makers, real estate developers, agents, consultants, researchers and financial institutions to share transformation ideas to uplift the challenging property sector.

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